Join us on Wednesday, May 25 at 10am Pacific/12pm Central/1pm ET for the first session in a two-part series exploring the opportunities and challenges that the current government has brought Israeli civil society over the last year.
The first session will focus on the opportunities created by the coalition. With center-left and left-wing parties holding ministries and an Arab party in government for the first time in Israel’s history, Israeli civil society organizations have been able to successfully push for unprecedented investment in Palestinian-Arab communities in Israel.
We will hear from former MK and founder of Place for Change, Dov Khenin, Shatil—Center for Policy Change Policy Advisor, Leehee Goldenberg, Abraham Initiatives‘ Thabet Abu Rass and our own board member, Dr. Nasreen Haddad Haj-Yahya. They’ll share their insights from a year of struggles and wins with the new government.
Dr. Dov Khenin is a political scientist, lawyer, environmentalist, and activist for peace and socioeconomic equality. He served as a member of Knesset from 2006-2019, and was recognized for his outstanding parliamentary work in passing over 100 laws on social, environmental, human rights, and gender issues. He formerly led the Israeli Union of Environmental NGOs. He is a co-founder of Place for Change, a center for the development of action-oriented strategic thought for progressive bodies working toward peace, equality, social and environmental justice in Israel.
Dr. Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya is one of the leading researchers on Arab society in Israel with a focus on public policy issues of education, employment, representation and social mobility. Since 2015 she has served as the Director of the Arab-Jewish Relations Program at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and since 2019 she is a Partner at the Portland Trust. In 2020, together with two partners – Aiman Saif (a senior economist and the former Founding Director of the Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab Sector) and Avivit Hai (researcher and expert on Arab society and shared society in Israel), Nasreen founded NAS-ناس Research and Consulting Ltd, a practical research and organizational consulting firm that specializes in Arab society in Israel.
Previously, Nasreen directed the initiative on Diversity in the Teachers’ Lounge of the Merchavim Institute, collaborating with the Ministry of Education to integrate Arab teachers into Jewish schools. A native of Ramla and an expert in the field of Arab-Jewish relations, Nasreen works to bridge socio-economic gaps between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. In particular, she has expertise on efforts to advance informal education in Israel’s Arab society, enhance socioeconomic opportunities for Arab youth and young adults, improve integration of Arab citizens into higher education and the job market, and increase representation of Arabs in Israel’s civil service and decision-making circles. Nasreen has won numerous academic distinctions and scholarships, including the Merit Scholarship of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geography and Human Environment and a Merit Scholarship from the Bikura Science Foundation. She holds an MA in Education and Social Geography and her groundbreaking PhD thesis from Tel Aviv University examines the phenomenon of inaction among Arab young adults, titled: “The contemporary impact of social space barriers on the inaction and future orientation of young Arabs aged 18–22.”
Leehee Goldenberg is a policy professional specializing in the legal and regulatory aspects of the energy and infrastructure economy, climate change, air pollution and economic environmental policy. Previous to her work at Shatil, she spent a decade working directly with regulators and legislators, members of Knesset and the Government and in collaboration with the private sector – initially at the municipal level with the Mayor of Jerusalem’s office, followed by within the Ministry of Justice and Office of the Prosecutor and then as the Director of the Economics Department at the leading Israeli Environmental NGO Adam Teva V’Din.
A certified lawyer and litigator leading some of the most important environmental lawsuits of the last decade. These have included successfully secured amendments to the government’s road map for the offshore natural gas industry; led a multiparty lawsuit to halt the expansion of the Oil Refinery in Haifa; and led the litigation against the Water Authority limiting the amount of water pumped from the Dead Sea. Originally from Montreal, Canada, Leehee moved to Israel in 2001. She lives in Jaffa with her husband Rob and daughter Mylo, she’s also an art enthusiast and a part-time potter.
Dr. Thabet Abu Ras has been the Co-CEO of the Abraham Initiatives since 2014. Ras had a central role in creating the “Future Visions” documents, which have provided a roadmap for the demands of Israel’s Arab community. Before joining Abraham Initiatives, Dr. Abu Ras directed Adalah’s Negev office, was co-director of “New Horizon” – The Arab-Jewish Center for Dialogue and a Shared Society, and co-founded the Association of Environmental Justice in Israel. He is a political geographer who has taught at Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College. An expert on Arab politics in Israel and a prominent voice in promoting Jewish-Arab political partnership. Dr. Abu Ras obtained his PhD in Regional Development & Middle East Studies from the University of Arizona.